HOUSTON — Persistent rain in portions of Texas has made August 2016 the wettest August in more than a century and equal to the rainiest ever, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the State Climatologist office at Texas A&M University.
Texas received an average 5.69 inches of rain statewide. That’s the same amount as was measured in 1914, the present record holder for the month based on records that go back 121 years.
State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon credits the rainfall to an atmospheric wind pattern that pumped lots of deep, moist tropical air into the state.
“The heaviest rain mainly has been in East, Central and Southeast Texas,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “Some parts of Southeast Texas received more than 15 inches of rain for the month.”
The preliminary statistics based on data from gauges around the state also show the past 24-month period is the wettest ever, with the state averaging 75.25 inches of rain over the past two years, topping the previous mark of 74.85 set in 1942.
It could stay wet for the next couple of months, since September and October historically are the wettest months of the year in the state.
“If a tropical storm or hurricane stalls over Texas — September is the peak month for such storms — then we would be at risk for serious flooding since most of the ground is already saturated,” he said.
The August rains missed Cameron County, the state’s southernmost county and the driest during the month, he said. Other areas below normal were mainly in West Texas from Midland and San Angelo up to Wichita Falls, where it takes more than a month of rainy weather to break a drought.
“There’s still some spotty drought,” he said. “Most of the areas have been eradicated but there’s, at least as of last week, a few counties in moderate to severe drought.”
Some of those areas were around Lubbock and San Angelo in the west and Corpus Christi along the Gulf Coast.
Corpus Christi was an example of the fickle nature of weather, with August rain totaling as much as 8 inches north of the city but between 2 inches and a half-inch south of the city, Nielsen-Gammon said.
The final numbers won’t be official for another few months.
He said Texas has had weather stations since the 1850s but those few stations aren’t reliable for statewide computations and data is incomplete. Comprehensive records date to 1895.